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Remembered Today:

SIGNALLER


Guest gill88
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Sorry if this is so simple for this forum,

I have just discovered my grandfather was a signaller with the Durham LIght Infantry during the WW1.

Just what did a signaller do?

Thank you.

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welcome to the forum

I guess he would send messages but cant really elaborate as Ive never researcher someone of this rank

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There were several layers of Signalling duties in the Army linked in with the levels of command in the Army : Army, Corps, Division, and Battalion.

The duties of the first three (highest) levels were done by the Royal Engineers, but at Battalion level these duties were carried out by Signallers (which described there duty/"trade" rather than their official rank of Private, Corporal, etc.)

At battalion level the Signalling duties usually meant communicating between the Company (4 companies of approx. 250 to a battalion for most of the war) and Platoon commanders (4 platoons to a Company) and their superiors in the trenches.

At this level of command, and with the technology available it usually meant being a Runner and carrying messages by hand to the appropriate officers. The life expectancy of a Runner was really rather short, especially if it meant running back across No Man's land to carry a message back to Battalion HQ in the middle of a battle with shells falling around you!

A rather safer duty was telephone signalling which, though more limited at battalion level than the higher levels. Of course, fixing wires during attacks wasn't a plum job either.

The Heliograph and Signalling lamps were rather "tried and tested" by the First World War. I don't know how far back the actually go but I know they were in use in the 1890s. (EDIT: In use since ancient times, the Heliograph was reinvented by Sir Henry Mance, around 1870-1875 in various versions and patented in the US in 1876! I know useless information... It was still in use during WW2 I think - I believe the visual signalling devices on battleship bridges were types of heliograph but powered by electricity instead of the sun. My great uncle got chased down a mountain (Saran Sar, 1897) by Afridi Tribesmen after ascending to send Heliograph messages.)

Lastly, the use of semaphore flags was also practiced, but standing up and waving a flag around was not considered the safest of things when bullets and shells are flying.

Hope this helps,

Steve.

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That was a link I thought I might post!

Didn't realise that was you...

Steve.

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The Royal Signals Museum at Blandford Camp is worth visiting and has some good material on WW1. Was there just over a week ago and found them most helpful.

Edwin

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Thank you to everyone who wrote.

I now have an idea what my grandfather did. I assume he was a signaller at battalion level. Wonder just what duties he did carry out.

Thanks again

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